What Ferguson Is Causing Us to Forget

It is interesting how the Ferguson debate keeps raging. I read things I agree with and many things I don’t agree with. I posted some thoughts the other day (you can read that HERE).

I came across another blog entry by Perry Noble the other day, and I really like his take on it as well. You can read it HERE in its original form or take a look at it below.

Hurt Rochester NY_01

On Saturday, August 9, 2014 a tragic loss of life took place in Ferguson, Missouri as the life of Michael Brown came to an end as a result of shots being fired from police officer Darren Wilson’s weapon.

What exactly happened? I am not sure, because even though there have been strong statements on both sides of the argument, I was not there.

Last week the decision of the grand jury was announced and what followed in Ferguson, and other areas, made it obvious that, even as far as we have come as a nation, not everyone in our country reacts civilly to news they do not like. Violence, rioting and destroying property does not seem to me like a reasonable response to news like this, but our President described it as “an understandable reaction”.

As I have thought about this event, heard the arguments from both sides of the aisle and watched the senseless acts of lawlessness take place I have come to the conclusion that Ferguson is causing us to forget THIS ONE THING…

Most cops are good cops! 

Cops are men and women with real hearts, with real souls who I believe that, for the most part, do what they do in order to make a difference.

I remember a conversation with a woman who is married to a policeman who told me, “Every day I live with the reality that when my phone rings it could be to inform me that my husband has lost his life in the line of duty.”

I can remember my uncle serving as a cop and going to see him one evening at his house after he had been released from the hospital because an inmate in the county jail had beaten the crap out of him and then literally bitten a chunk of out his thigh. (There was no media coverage on this event.)

I have many friends who work as cops, and I can honestly say that they are some of the hardest working and most passionate people on the planet.

Cops serve the communities in which they live and, even though they are outmanned, outgunned and out resourced, they will do whatever it takes to protect the lives of people. 

Which brings me back to Ferguson.

I believe one of the most dreadful things that is coming out of this event is the way America is being told to view police officers.

Attorney General Eric Holder threw fuel on the fire when he proclaimed the Justice Department’s investigation into civil rights will be “thorough” and that law enforcement must work to “restore trust” and “foster understanding.”

Honestly, I found the comments to be quite offensive as I have personally found that people in law enforcement are way more trustworthy than let’s say… many government officials.

As a result of what has happened in Ferguson, we are being given the message that the police are bad, evil and not to be trusted. However, in most cases, the only time a citizen should fear law enforcement officials is when they are actually breaking the law. (I personally only get nervous when I’m driving down the road and see a police officer if I am breaking the speed limit.)

Are there crooked cops?

Absolutely!

Are there cops who abuse the system?

No doubt!

Are there cops who have been racists, sexists or elitist?

Yes – and police who are found guilty of the above should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

But we must also realize that police are not the only groups of people on the planet that do such things.

I am NOT arguing that police be excused from sinful and unlawful behavior. What I am saying is that the majority of those in the police force are NOT doing their jobs in ways that should cause distrust and disrespect. 

At the time of this writing, 43 police officers across the nation have lost their lives due to gunfire this year. I would be willing to bet you could add up every minute of news coverage given to their loss of life and it would not come close to the hours devoted to the events in Ferguson.

This article will not settle the debate- which is appropriate because I did not write it for that reason.

I wrote it because I do not want us to lose sight of the great men and women who serve as police officers, and I wanted to say “thank you” to every man and woman who is a cop!

Thank you for being willing to be unpopular and unwanted in our society (until someone needs you).

Thank you for placing your life on the line for the protection of others.

Thank you for choosing law enforcement when you could have chosen other more financially rewarding paths.

Thank you for the nights you spent away from your family protecting me while I spend time with mine.

Thank you for enduring constant media scrutiny and inappropriate accusations in order to make our communities safer.

There will always be good cops and bad cops.

But I believe the majority are good…and I hope that Ferguson does not cause us to forget this!

 

One comment
  1. Unfortunately this misses the forest for the trees. “Most cops are good cops!” Yes they are but we can’t miss that they work within a system with policies that do cause injustice, so someone who is a good cop may be perpetuating an injustice which makes them a “bad” cop to people who feel that injustice the most.

    The cops don’t always live within the communities they police, like in Ferguson that is a majority white police force that is policing a majority black neighborhood partly caused by “white flight.” The police may be out manned but outgunned and out resourced is less an issue as police departments get more military hardware which they are more willing to deploy without the training to not escalate a situation as was done in Ferguson.

    Yes the only time that you may have to fear law enforcement officials is when you are breaking the law, but if you are black in some areas you should fear them more, as blacks are disproportionately arrested and given tougher sentences than whites who commit the same crimes. And sometimes the only suspicion that someone is breaking the law is the color of their skin as one of my friends noted when he wrote this “First, I have anecdotes too that go either way. But I can name at least once in NOLA where I was walking down the street with black friends of mine (from seminary) who were dressed almost identically to the way I was. The cops stopped them and searched them. One cop slammed my friend down on the hood of the car for no reason. Yet, they didn’t even look at me or address me. I also think of my friend–an African-American doctor–who was wearing a white polo shirt and above-the-knee khaki shorts while walking in a major city. He was mugged, and both he and the attacker (a white man) were injured. When the cops got there, they took my friend into custody and let the white criminal go home–despite my friend’s disagreement with the attacker’s version of events.”

    There is also a problem of police being excused for inappropriate or unlawful behavior. A police officer may not be doing their job in a way to cause distrust and disrespect but some of the systemic and policy enforcement problems do give reason to some people to distrust the police as perpetuating an unjust system.

    I think that most cops are good and do their jobs well but who sometimes do bad things because of the nature of the job. But we can not ignore the problems in the system that help to cause the distrust and violent outbursts.

    Some articles that are worth a read:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/november/decision-in-ferguson-how-should-evangelicals-respond.html
    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2014/11/27/four-common-but-misleading-themes-in-ferguson-like-times/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/13/what-caused-the-ferguson-riot-exists-in-so-many-other-cities-too/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/18/we-keep-pledging-to-study-the-cause-of-riots-like-ferguson-and-we-keep-ignoring-the-lessons/
    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/nashville-police-protests-violence-looting-property-damage/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/08/how-many-police-shootings-a-year-no-one-knows/

    And a clip from John Oliver that tries to have some humor but a terrifying issue.


Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>